Understanding the Guidelines

A talk by Tim Jackins at the Australia and New Zealand Pre-World Conference, April 2013

We have the Guidelines1 to help us figure out how to build an RC Community. They are a big help, and building an RC Community is still difficult. We form RC Communities because they are, so far, our best idea of how to develop more deeply and spread more widely the theory and practice of Re-evaluation Counseling. This is not simple to do.

What do we want the RC Community to be? Well, we want it to be different from everything else—which means that we have to be different. We have to do things in this Community that we wouldn’t do in other kinds of communities. The most important thing is we have to be connected with each other.

Building a community is something we have to learn how to do. Few of us have ever done it before. We were supposed to join and adapt to existing communities. We were supposed to just accept what was already there. So building a community is something we have to learn to do. But we don’t have to start over—we can use the experience we’ve had so far. The Guidelines won’t answer all of our questions, but they will help us figure out the answers.

The idea of an RC Community had to be created. Our first effort at guidelines was at the first World Conference, in 1972, near Santa Barbara, California, USA. We tried to collect what we knew about forming communities. People in different places had different ideas—sometimes wildly different. The level of understanding of RC was not yet deep in most places.

The Guidelines are a lovely document. Still, it is sometimes difficult to get anyone new to RC interested in them, because they can remind people of the many ways they were told how they were supposed to be. The Guidelines are the best thinking of thousands of individuals, all looking at our situation, trying to figure out how we can make this project work. They aren’t strict rules, but we also don’t want to ignore the best thinking of other people. Even if they were mistaken, they thought these things for a reason and we can learn from their thoughts.

The Guidelines are not fixed forever. We will make some small changes to them at this year’s World Conference, because the world is changing and we are developing. We will always need to take that into account and figure things out afresh and think about them again. So we want you to think about the Guidelines.

If I sit down and start to read any section of them, I can tell that intelligent minds have been involved. This is an intelligent document, and I get interested. A great many minds from all over the world have been involved in them, in a consistent fashion. When my father had trouble sleeping and was awake at two in the morning, he would reach for a piece of RC literature, like the Guidelines, read it, and see the thinking shown there. It would pull him out of whatever unhappiness had awoken him. He could then relax and go back to sleep.

The Guidelines are an important document, written by hundreds of us over many years. They are our best collective effort to guide ourselves. We get to think about them specifically during this World Conference year. It is useful to do this, whether or not we have changes in mind, in order to understand them more clearly.


The Guidelines address detailed issues, like finances, and important theoretical issues, like our no-socializing policy.2 How many people here have struggled with the no-socializing policy? Look around. It’s maybe half of us. This is a place where we have big frozen longings, and the issues get twisted by distress. A section of the Guidelines addresses the issues involved in the no-socializing policy. It talks about our frozen longings, the relationship we have with each other in RC, and how particular and special that relationship is.

Some people, if they have been scared and haven’t been able to talk much about the issues, have tried to beat people into submission with the Guidelines. Maybe that’s been useful sometimes, but it’s a little short of our intention.

In the no-socializing policy, we ask you to make a choice. We ask you to choose the benefit of the Community over your individual longings. We ask you to decide that this Community, the resource, and the relationships you have here are more important to you than pursuing in the RC Community something that you long for in your life. You get to make a choice about it. You get to think about what’s important. How important is our Community to you, and how careful do you want to be with it?

It’s also choosing a collective perspective over an individual perspective. This goes against the grain of our society. We can choose us. I choose all of my relationships here over trying to form a particular relationship that I have always longed for.


Two other things I would like to talk about are structure and referencing. Like we do with RC theory, most of us learn about the structure of the RC Community not by reading the Guidelines but from those around us in the Community. We tend to blame the structure for not working, or be pleased because it does, without knowing that structure well.

The structure of RC has been thought about carefully. We think everyone is capable of leadership and taking initiative, and we don’t want the structure to interfere with that. At the same time, we all have distresses that confuse us about taking leadership and initiative. Sometimes they make us want to play a leadership role when we are in no way prepared. Other times they make us unwilling to even try leading, no matter how well prepared we are.

This is why the Guidelines are guidelines and not rules. A good solution involves a mind that also understands the situation along with using the experience collected in the Guidelines. For example, read the section on the duties and responsibilities of an Area3Reference Person. Not many duties are listed. The important thing is to do what needs to be done to let RC flourish, and that requires fresh thinking.

We all come into RC with distresses about leadership, and we tend to feel that the Area Reference Person is the leader. That’s not what his or her position is. The Area Reference Person agrees to take on4 certain responsibilities, but they are quite limited. He or she can also be a leader in other ways, but so can many other people, without ever being in a reference person position. The structure is there to provide enough reference, enough places to turn to check our judgment, without interfering with someone taking initiative and learning how to be a leader.

The idea of referencing is an important one. One of the problems with our childhoods was that we had no reference point. We had no place to turn where someone would think with us. Imagine how different it would have been if when you were one day old, you had turned and looked and someone was over there looking back, who just awarely nodded at you. You would be using that memory in sessions. We had no reference points. In our Community, we have many reference persons who reference different groups of people.

A number of Communities have come to understand that referencing people means thinking about them not just in sessions, not just in terms of what they have been working on in this session or the last, but trying to keep in mind a picture of who they are and what their struggles are. It’s useful to have someone who is aware of and thinking about us, who can talk with us about our lives as well as counsel us on our distresses.

This doesn’t mean giving advice. It does mean knowing what questions to ask. It means seeing where someone is struggling, where he or she can’t think about things, and asking good questions. We are not ready to do that when we first start RC. Our questions would come out of our distresses and curiosities. But as we clear distresses out of our way and build ongoing relationships, referencing becomes a possibility. It would be good if each of us had at least one Co-Counselor who agreed to be a reference point for us in our lives.

The Guidelines for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities—the policies for the RC Communities
The no-socializing policy of the RC Communities states that Co-Counselors should not set up any relationships, other than Co-Counseling, with other  Co-Counselors or with people whom they first meet in a Co-Counseling context.
3  An Area is a local RC Community.
4  “Take on” means assume.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00